Vitamin D has been in the news loads for its immune system benefits. It helps to regulate the immune system meaning it boosts it if low and calms it down if overactive – both have their individual challenges.
Vitamin D has many other health benefits
It helps your digestive system to absorb and store essential minerals including calcium and phosphate/phosphorous which is why it is so good for your bones, joints, teeth, and muscles.
If you experience chronic pains, it could well be worth checking your Vitamin D levels as I have observed improvement in many patients over the years once they have re-gained adequate levels. Without meaning to confuse magnesium deficiency is also common with aches and pains and magnesium is important to help your body make use of vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps recycle the calcium in your kidneys so it can be reabsorbed rather than lost when you urinate.
It also has a role in making certain hormones (including oestrogen – separate blog to follow) as well as playing a part in making new cells in your body and reducing inflammation (part of how it also helps the immune system)
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because your body needs UVB rays to hit the skin, Cholesterol in your skin then converts it into Vitamin D3. Magical eh! As a side fact, technically it isn’t really a vitamin it is a hormone.
Reasons Why You May Be Vitamin D Deficient
- You don’t get outside enough.
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You live in the Northern Hemisphere so there isn’t enough sun from October-April. Some years maybe not even enough in an English summer 🙁
- You always use sunscreen or cover-up so UVB can’t get to your skin. We’ve also written a blog to make sure that you are safe in the sun.
- If you are darker skinned, darker skin takes longer to make Vitamin D3.
You are overweight/obese. There is a lot of research out there stating that although you can make as much it isn’t made available in the blood. That higher abdominal fat is a factor but is it cause or effect? There are also thoughts that as it is stored in fat cells the more you have, the more your body needs. Ironically there are also some studies that indicate that supplementation could help you to lose weight…!
Whatever the reason or where you live it is important to avoid overdosing and causing toxicity. There can be too much of a ‘good thing’. It is an important factor to remember, particularly when news about deficiency just seems to be everywhere now. Vitamin D and calcium work together so need enough. If you have too much vitamin D and not enough calcium in your blood, then your body will then ‘release’ some from areas such as your bones and muscles! So please don’t just assume you have to take Vitamin D and if you do it’s better to have smaller doses and make sure you have enough calcium and magnesium (thought to be deficient in 50% of the population) so that everything can work well.
As a side note your body can store Vitamin D for around 3 months. Adequate levels are linked to how you feel (the sunshine vitamin can help you to feel sunny inside) this is the reason behind the saying ‘winter blues. By December you could well be running low, coupled with the longer dark nights won’t help how you feel.
Going back to my original point. It is important to make check your vitamin levels, to begin with.
This NHS lab in Birmingham offers a fantastic service. I have used them myself. It costs just £29 to get your results privately.
So How Do You Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency When It’s Not Sunny?
You can through some foods although this is much more difficult if you are vegetarian or vegan as those foods are:
- Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
- Red meat.
- Egg yolks free range and organic. It is important that the yolks are runny as an ingredient within them helps your body extract the goodness (lecithin) It is deactivated once the yolk is hard.
- Mushrooms e.g. Shiitake.
Vitamin D Supplements
If after testing, you know your levels are low or you just want to make sure your levels are topped up over winter
Remember not all supplements are the same. To some degree, you get what you pay for. If it’s cheap it may well contain Vitamin D but can your body do anything with it? You may have seen the news articles about supplements being a waste of time because people wee it out. I personally think that the problem with that is did the person need the supplement. Was it absorbable and even if it was what is that person’s digestive system like? Check out the digestive system part of this website, where this will be covered in greater detail…
So please make sure that the supplements you buy are what is known as ‘bio available’ and ‘food state’. If a vitamin supplement is artificial/chemically made it can cause inflammation in your body. If you already take supplements check what you are taking in case vitamin D is already included. Plus, if you have already been taking a supplement with Vitamin D please check your levels first before adding more.
Many Vitamin D supplements are made from lanolin (often the oil from sheep’s wool) I know I was shocked when I first discovered this…. There are vegan supplements out there which are often made from lichen.
There are many great supplement companies out there. In this article, I am listing the ones that I frequently find helpful for people when testing in Systematic Kinesiology. With some of these links, I may earn a small percentage so it is up to you if you would like to follow directly or not.